Mariner Project - I arrived as they were playing but caught 32 minutes of music, so I have enough information to get a good sense of the band. Actually, it does not take that long as it is instrumental music featuring keyboards and drums. There is a little computer augmentation with beats and some bass and such, but it all follows a steady pattern. Initially, I felt like they may have needed one more instrument and that probably would not hurt, but thankfully I did catch enough of the set, as over time I ended up appreciating these guys' approach. They have a heavy keyboard prog sound like a Bo Hansson perhaps. They use synthesizer sounds well and keep things busy and vibrant. They create some surprisingly meaty textures with just this approach, so I was convinced and would welcome another listen some day.
More AM than FM - It is nice to see young people reference differences between AM and FM before those terms fade away to the land of 8-track tapes, kinescopes, and magic lanterns. This southern Maryland trio features plenty of grrrrl power and bluesy rock combined to remind me of the early punk days. They combine elements of Frightwig, the Ramones, and the Count Bishops (or some sort of gutter blues). It is all rather simple, although there are some quality guitar moves here and there. And every now and then they make some surprisingly creative songwriting moves. So there is a little potential here that lots of gigging like this can only help them to realize.
Company Calls - More riot action (although dialed down a bit) here as another trio hits the stage with guitar, drums, and vocals. It is a little thin instrumentally, but the quality is there, so it works out ok. The drums are really solid and the guitar work is just varied enough to keep things interesting. There is more to be done here, but they can work that out by more gigging, etc., etc. They covered Tegan & Sara and had a song that reminded me of the Vibrators "Baby Baby". Pop-punk with a bit of attitude again takes me back a few decades. I do recommend against doing the encore when things are running late on a 4-band line-up on a Tuesday, however.
The Dead Women - I stuck around for only half their set as I have personal things to closely monitor these days. I am quite happy I did as I saw some pretty great things from this power trio. They are definitely a power pop band, but have an assurance to them that keeps that a few steps beyond garageland and closer to a great mainstream pop rock sound. The playing is highly skilled and the vocals on top are smooth and assured with some good harmonies at times. The band seems to push each other into building intensity with songs that remind me of early 3 O'Clock material and some other bands that I cannot quite come up with tonight. But that is a good thing, because with the vocals and strength of playing and composition, these guys may be able to carve out their own territory into this ever crowded field. They are definitely a band to catch and after chatting with them a bit, it sounds like they get steady enough gigs, so check them out if you are any kind of fan of hook filled rock music.
Quote of the Night: The simplest of many quotes from More AM than FM's guitarist/singer... "I'm in a band full of jerks."